Friday, September 23, 2016

Week 38 - Acid

For the Week 38 acid challenge, I originally intended to do something with balsamic vinegar, but I just wasn't feeling very inspired so I started looking into recipes starring lemon. What I eventually found that I liked was this recipe from The Kitchn for a chickpea casserole with lemon, herbs, and shallots. I thought the lemon would be front and center since it was in the title, but while there was lemon flavor, it wasn't really a lemon-focused dish. One of the alternate interpretations of the acid theme was to use acid-forming foods, which would include most dairy products, so even if there wasn't enough lemon in this dish, it still fit the challenge using that basis.

I made a few deviations from the original recipe (as usual), and the ingredients I used were:

- 3 cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained ($2.25)
- 4 large shallots, finely chopped ($0.99)
- 2 large spoonfuls of crushed garlic ($0.25)
- 1 cup brown rice, cooked ($0.50)
- juice and zest of 1 large lemon ($0.49)
- about 5 hearts of palm stalks, finely chopped ($2.50)
- salt and pepper ($0.05)
- 2 large eggs, beaten ($0.20)
- 1 cup small curd cottage cheese ($0.90)
- 3/4 cup lowfat plain yogurt ($0.75)
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided ($2)
- 1/2 bunch of parsley, leaves finely chopped ($0.90)
- a couple tsp of dried rosemary ($0.10)
- Italian bread crumbs, about 1/2-2/3 cup ($0.50)
- olive oil for drizzling ($0.20)

The total for the dish was approximately $12.58 (although I'm not entirely sure on the cost of the hearts of palm as we bought the jar a very long time ago), which was enough for a filling dinner for two, quite a few spoonfuls of rice mixture to snack on while prepping, and some leftover pieces of casserole for another lunch.

This was a relatively simple dish to put together even if it took some time to get everything together. The basic steps were:

- start rice in rice cooker (so that it'll be done once the ingredients for the chickpea mixture are ready) and preheat oven to 375 degrees
- drain and rinse chickpeas, and add to large bowl
- prep produce: chop shallots, juice lemon, zest lemon, chop hearts of palm, chop parsley
- mix chickpeas with the chopped shallots, crushed garlic, brown rice, lemon juice, lemon zest, hearts of palm, and salt and pepper
- additional prep: beat eggs, grate parmesan cheese (could probably do all the prep together but we don't have enough counter space for all of that)
- mix beaten eggs and 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese with the cottage cheese and yogurt, and stir until mixed well together
- add parsley, rosemary, and egg mixture to chickpea mixture, and combine well
- grease 9x13 baking dish and add combined mixture to baking dish in flat layer
- add remaining parmesan cheese and bread crumbs to the top, and then drizzle with olive oil
- bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, and then let stand for 5-10 minutes

We really liked this. I've never really made much with cottage cheese, but the combination of that with yogurt made this casserole feel so light and airy even though a small amount was pretty filling. I'm glad we added the hearts of palm which weren't in the original (some people had suggested artichokes, but we've had hearts of palm in the pantry for a long time), and I'm wondering what other vegetables I could add to this next time. The only other change I would make would probably be to ditch the fresh parsley. For the amount of added work with the washing and chopping, and the need to get fresh parsley in the first place, it really didn't add much parsley flavor to the end result. I think I'd rather substitute some dried parsley or just leave it out all together, since the rosemary combined with the Italian bread crumbs seemed to add enough flavor. This was a pretty successful casserole, and we definitely want to make it again.

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